07 Jul 2010
Situated in the center of the state of Washington is a destination resort vineyard and winery that showcases 30 year old vines and views 900 feet above the Columbia River. Cave B Estate Winery is next to the Gorge Amphitheater 150 miles East of Seattle and 150 miles West of Spokane just off Interstate 90 in the little town of Quincy, WA. With 30 rooms, a spa, restaurant and award winning wine, Cave B makes for a perfect overnight trip, or resting stop on your journey to/from Seattle.
Owners Vince and Carol Bryan have fulfilled their vision for the property they began planting in 1980. The campus includes 120 acres of estate vineyards that winemaker Freddy Arrendondo uses to craft 19 different wines including Barbera, Tempranillo, and Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. Cave B recently received 8 medals at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards. Enjoy your stay with a hike down to the river, then enjoy a poolside massage and challenge your palate with a “Stump the Chump” blind wine tasting and wrap up your day with dinner at Tendrils Vineyard Restaurant.
2008 Cave B Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling fermented in stainless steel; 1.8% residual sugar; 12.7% ABV, 375 cases produced
- The Swirl: Beautiful soft honey tones that display a thicker viscosity, hint of small particulates in glass.
- The Sniff: The wine presents a lovely bouquet of perfume, nectarines, and guava. A soft sweetness graces the nose as well.
- The Sip: Love at first sip. A very fruit forward presentation of pineapple, tropical fruits and pears, followed by a perfectly balanced acidity that helps wash away the mild sweetness. The flavor is moderately sweet without coming across as syrupy.
- The Score: At $18 the Cave B Riesling is a wonderful balance of tropical aroma, off dry sweet fruit and a beautifully balanced finish that keeps you coming back for more. This wine is deserving of its gold at the SWA and scores a 4 out of 5 with me!
2008 Cave B Semillon
- The Stuff: 100% estate Semillon aged 11 months in 20% twice used American oak and a blend of 50% neutral American and 30% neutral French oak. 14.5% ABV, 275 cases produced
- The Swirl: First thing that comes to mind is liquid gold, almost light beer in color.
- The Sniff: Mild aromas of orange and spice are on the nose with a hint of vanilla bean.
- The Sip: If I didn’t know better, I would think this wine spent more time in oak. It’s pretty obvious that the twice used American oak imparted some flavors of toasted almonds and burnt vanilla. The wine coats the mouth and had a thin mid palate before coming through with a crisp finish of pears and honey.
- The Score: While not a fan of the oak presentation of this wine, it still has some interesting layers of flavor that would appeal to some people. Before purchasing this wine, be warned that it’s not a deck sipping Sauv Blanc or stainless steel aged Semillon. At $20 I can score this wine a 3+ for dynamic flavors, but give it a try before you commit to more than one bottle.
2006 Cave B Cuvee du Soleil
- The Stuff: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cab Franc, 25% Merlot, 22 months in 30% new American oak and 70% Neutral French and American oak; 13.9%ABV; 400 cases produced
- The Swirl: A dark cloudy plum color that is about 90% opaque.
- The Sniff: Powerful aromas of dark ripe plums, cocoa, leather, and coffee. You could spend quite a bit of time enjoying the aromas of this wine, but each sniff entices you to sip again!
- The Sip: The layers of flavor in this wine continue on and on with elegant presentations of coffee, black tea, stewed prunes, and hints of red cherry and cocoa. The wine has good medium-firm tannin on the finish that lingers.
- The Score: The Cave B proprietary blend is a wine that will wow a dinner party. A elegant presentation of Cab Sauv, Franc and Merlot make this a special wine that will age beautifully for another 5-8 years. At $40 this is a fantastic wine for special occasions and scores a good 4 out of 5.
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review.
Learn more about Cave B Estate Winery
16 Jun 2010
Exploring new wine is one of the greatest joys of being a wine lover. When it comes to beer, 90% of the beer sold in the US is Bud, Coors and Miller. There are about 1500 breweries in the US, but there are more than 4000 wineries and each of them produces several grape varieties and blends. To top it off, each year the process starts over again with new vintages and the subtleties that come with the new year. Possibly 250,000 different wine products are produced annually. You could drink a case of different wine every day and still only make it through 5000 of those products in a year. Are you up to the challenge?
Olson Ogden is a small winery in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Olson Ogden is a partnership of veteran wine maker Tim Olson, marketing professional John Ogden, and former AOL communications and marketing manager Margaret Ryan. Olson Ogden produces Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals with emphasis on single vineyard Syrah (1200 cases per year).
- The Stuff: 100% Marsanne; 17 months in Stainless Steel and French Oak; 14.7%ABV; 144 cases
- The Swirl: Light golden honey with a thick viscosity
- The Sniff: A bouquet of flowers, peaches and stone fruit. Very lively and fragrant
- The Sip: Open up, squeeze in a honeydew melon, add three drops of peach concentrate juice and finish it off with a twig. The 17 months in 28% new oak come through with a creamy spice and oak. The mouth feel is full and rich.
- The Score: At $35 this is a very dynamic wine with a huge amount of flavor. The price may put it out of reach for the average drinker but I can comfortably score this wine a 4 out of 5.
The Olson Ogden Marsanne is a refreshing departure for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. If you’re looking for something new to explore, enjoy the rich complexity of aroma and flavor that is found in Margaret’s Mandate. You’ll enjoy semi-sweet peach, stone fruit and a hint of spiced wood with a creamy lingering finish. Pair with scallops, mild creams sauce, and liver pate.
- The Stuff: 100% Manchester Ridge Pinot Noir; aged 17 months in 44% new French oak; 14.2%ABV, 112 cases produced
- The Swirl: Burnt crimson color slightly watery toward the edges. The color looks aged (even though the vintage is 2008)
- The Sniff: An earthy presentation of prunes and boysenberry fruit. There was a little hint of Christmas tree on the nose too.
- The Sip: Definitely not your cherry cola Pinot Noir. I love the maturity of flavor that this wine offers. I can immediately pairing this with lamb, turkey, ham and more. The flavors in the wine seem to provide a huge variety with each sip. They range from subtle spice to bacon, smoke, stewed tomatoes, and cranberry. There is a slight off minerality on the finish that leaves me a little longing.
- The Score: I love the complexity of flavor that this wine has to offer. The food pairing potential is endless. At $38 this is a fairly affordable Pinot and scores 3+ out of 5.
- The Stuff: 13% Grenache, 6% Marsanne, 12% Pinot Noir and 69% Syrah aged 17 months in 44% French oak; 14.5%ABV; 1406 cases produced
- The Swirl: Dark cherry color with deep purple tones. Complex jewel tones with color trending to pink hues along the edge.
- The Sniff: Elegant aroma of smooth red fruit, slight oak, and milk chocolate. To achieve this aroma, decanting is recommended. The initial aroma of the wine was heavy oak and cork initially out of the bottle.
- The Sip: The nose deceived me. I hate when that happens. The flavors were more thin on the palate and presented weak dark fruit, black tea and subtle cocoa. A decent acidity brightens up the finish saving this wine from being disappointing.
- The Score: At only $19 this is a quality offering from Sonoma that brings a good amount of flavor and character. I score it 3 out of 5.
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
04 Jun 2010
“Red wine, that’s what I like, that is what we make,” says Michael Haig of Whitestone winery. The Whitestone vineyard is located on the shores of Lake Roosevelt 60 miles west of Spokane. The vineyard microclimate is perfect for growing Bordeaux style grapes (Cab, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). For a full history of Whitestone and my previous interview with Michael Haig, see the DrinkNectar review.
I’m a huge fan of Bordeaux style blends. I feel that each grape brings individual characteristics to a wine that when properly done create a symphony of flavor and character. Whitestone is known for their Pieces of Red blend (reviewed here) and has recently released a Meritage blend using the best from their vineyard and highest quality French oak barrels. Whitestone holds the distinction of being the only estate grown, produced and bottled winery in Spokane.
Reviewed here are the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the Lake Roosevelt Red non-vintage blend.
2006 Whitestone Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from Lake Roosevelt Shores estate vineyard; 14.6% ABV
- The Swirl: Light plum with ruby edges and about 60% opaque. The wine is beginning to show some browning due to aging.
- The Sniff: A moderate bouquet of thin sour cherry fruit with hints of tobacco and oak
- The Sip: Thin on the front palate with the fruit coming late to the party. There is a cranberry / pomegranate flavor that starts tart then goes to a nice elegant finish. Slightly hot on the finish but has good acidity. Not a full flavor sipping wine but a nicely made wine to pair with food (grilling).
- The Score: The lack of structure and flavor at the $22 price point leads me to score this wine as 3 out of 5. I would hold off on buying this wine just to sip but would certainly recommend it with dinner.
2006 Whitestone Cabernet Franc
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Cabernet Franc; 14.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Light plum with a browning aged color. A bright bluish hue can be detected. The wine is about 60% opaque.
- The Sniff: A mild presentation of under-ripe raspberry and blueberry tickles the nose and contains subtle hints of black tea and a dash of pepper
- The Sip: The mouth feel is similar to the merlot with a thin front palate with fruit that shows up toward the mid and back. A little more multi-dimensional with medium bodied old world earthiness, spice and subtle under-ripe blueberry flavors. There is a good amount of tannin strength that leaves the finish slightly chalky.
- The Score: At $20, I score this wine 3 out of 5. There is nothing off-putting about the wine, it leaves me longing for a little more flavor but would be a nice pairing with beef, and pasta dishes.
NV Whitestone Lake Roosevelt Red
- The Stuff: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cab Franc from the estate vineyard; 14.9% ABV
- The Swirl: A tawny plum that is about 70% opaque. Color is good out to the edges
- The Sniff: Once you get past the hot perfume smell of the alcohol, there are very nice aromas of red raspberry, cranberry and dark dark chocolate. The smell is bright and fragrant.
- The Sip: This shows why I like blends. Cabernet Sauvignon shows up and joins in the Franc and Merlot party providing a great sweet cherry flavor and a bold middle palate flavor of spice, wood, and tobacco. There is a good tannin structure but doesn’t feel chalky. The only off piece of the wine is the strong alcohol heat when you swallow.
- The Score: At $17 retail this is a very good value red blend and I score it a 3+ out of 5. It shows good drinkability now with an additional 3-5 years in the cellar.
Whitestone Winery is open from Noon – 6pm Thursday – Saturday at 111 S. Cedar in downtown Spokane. They have live music most weekends and are participants of the First Friday festivities. Their wine club gives members 10% off of single bottle purchases, 15% off of case pricing and merchandise and complimentary tastings for up to four people.
*Wine was provided as industry sample with the intention to review
I have a confession. I’ve had this beautiful elegant and understated label staring at me for over two months. There is something engaging about the simple serif font with only the winery name and vintage on the front. There were times I even set the bottle on top of the cellar buffet just for show. Finally, the time has come to pop the cork and discover if what’s inside the bottle is as elegant and beautiful as the outside.
Penche is French for leaning bending or tilting and the winery name is taken from the old oak trees on the property. Scott and Pauline Asbill discovered the Oak Knoll property on their travels in 2001. Although wine lovers, they had no intention of creating wine, they fell in love with the panoramic views of the Napa Valley. The property originally included 4 acres of Chardonnay which Scott re-planted with three clones of Cabernet Sauvignon.
As the education, consultation, and passion continued, they began selling grapes to popular wineries and in 2005 took the proverbial leap and create Penche Wine. Paul is a wine grower and together with his wife and consulting wine maker Jay Buoncristiani they collaborate on each vintage for quality and direction.
The grapes for each wine are hand picked, hand sorted, re-sorted, and fermented in small containers before being stored for one year in new French oak. After blending trials and deciding on the proper blend, the wine is returned to barrel for an additional 6-9 months before bottling. The wines reviewed below represent only the second release in the fulfillment of passion and a dream!
2006 Penche Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 88% Cab (Penche Vineyard) 5% Cab Franc (Saunders Vineyard), 3% Malbec (Caldwell Vineyard), 2% Merlot (Larry Hyde Vineyard), 2% Petit Verdot (Penche and Saunders Vineyard); 100% new French oak for 18-21 months; 14.8%abv, 364 cases made
- The Swirl: A dark thick extracted purple/plum with rim of bright neon glow; nearly 100% opaque
- The Sniff: Bright red cherry, currant, and slight toasted oak. Very opulent and aromatic
- The Sip: Big fruit forward cherry flavors with cassis. A chalkiness settles on the mid-palate but the acidity washes it away within a few seconds on the finish.
- The Score: At $60, this is on the upper side of the price point for many people. I score this wine a 4 (out of 5) and can highly recommend it for anyone that buys wine in this price point. The wine could / should still see 3 more years in bottle to soften up the chalkiness. If opening immediately, should decant and pair with a big hearty steak!
92 Points Wine Enthusiast for 2005 vintage
The 2006 Penche Cab Sauv comes alive with bright cherries and toasted cedar. The mouth feel is big, rich and fruit forward. The grip on the tongue is released with a nice balanced acidity and lingering finish. Cellar 3-10 years. $60, DrinkNectar Rating = 4
- The Stuff: 40% Cab, 38% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec; 20 months in new French oak, 14.8%abv 289 cases
- The Swirl: Dark purple with softer tones. Edges move toward jewel tone garnet. About 90% opaque
- The Sniff: A wonderful representation of each of the five Bordeaux grapes. The bright cherry fruit is softened by black cherries and cocoa. A whiff of blueberries graces the nose as well.
- The Sip: A smooth mouth feel from front to back. The fruit that presents itself on the nose is also present on the palate with lively flavor all across the mouth. The tannin is less pronounced than on the Penche Cab, but still provides enough structure to pair with food
- The Score: At $40 I score this wine a 4+ out of 5. It is a large wine that is graceful like a offensive lineman in ballet class. It’s bold, smooth and elegant without losing the strength of the Cabernet grape.
No other reviews could be found.
The 2006 Penche Argent is a river of bold flavorful black cherry, cocoa, and well integrated spices. Expect an elegant flavor with strength to pair with food. Argent positions itself well as a sipping wine or to impress at dinner. $40, DrinkNectar Rating = 4+
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
Every so often I’m reminded of the reason I love wine and the reason I love reviewing wine. Tonight’s review is an example of that. I get the privilege of sampling wine before most people in the world. I get a sneak peek into the passion and heart that a wine maker has put into his craft. One wine is a new flagship from a veteran wine maker, the other is a very special limited release of juice from a young winery.
Latah Creek is an icon in Washington Wine. Producing 20,000 cases per year, Latah Creek was one of the first 20 wineries in the state of Washington (currently at 650). – SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH MIKE CONWAY – For 28 years, Latah Creek has been synonymous with white and specialty sweet wine. Over the past five years Mike and daughter Natalie have been changing that. The Monarch series, of which the Monarch Red is the first, is a distinct departure in effort, direction and label. The Monarch Series will be a focus on premium reds including Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and stylistic blends. The label is their first NOT using their traditional wildlife artwork. The bold new label is a replica of a 30×36 painting from acclaimed Spokane artist Edward W. Gilmore. The new label releases April 23, 2010.
NV Latah Creek Monarch Red
- The Stuff: 50% Zinfandel 25% Syrah and Cabernet from Columbia Valley, 12.5%abv and 112 cases produced
- The Swirl: Dull plum color with garnet edges, about 80% opaque
- The Sniff: Mellow fruit with pleasing vanilla and red fruit notes
- The Sip: Very well balanced from front to back. The wine begins with a nice cherry vanilla and offers a hint of spice. The finish concludes with beautiful tannin and well played acidity. The velvet smoothness will play well with food or as a casual quality drinker.
- The Score: At $25 I can easily score this wine 3+ out of 5. It is well made and offers a good amount of character and complexity to please the casual drinker and the wine connoisseur.
Nodland Cellars 2006 Reserve Cab is simply one of the best 5 wines I’ve had this year (out of close to 100 formal reviews and dozens of other samples). Tim and Tracy Nodland began their boutique winery in 2007 with the release of the 2005 Reserve Blend and are committed to making “small amounts of the best wine we can make,” says Tracy Nodland. - SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH TIM AND TRACY – The 2006 Reserve Cabernet (from McClellan Vineyards) was born when making the 2006 Red Blend. During blending the McClellan Cab was so over the top that each blending percentage they tried resulted in a Cab forward flavor. While they eventually ended up with a blend that represented all six Bordeaux grapes, they held back a few barrels of the 06 McClellan Cab for this reserve. The result is pure Cabernet bliss. The wine is bold without being over the top, provides drinkability while still letting you know it can be stored.
- The Stuff: 94% McClellan Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Seven Hills Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot; 50 cases produced, 14.9%abv
- The Swirl: Elegant dark black purple with hints of leathery brown. Edges are subdued tan. Color is about 90% opaque
- The Sniff: Ominous aromas of fresh pepper, big cherries, dark fruit and earthy soil. A hot alcohol smell when taking a deep breath.
- The Sip: Velvet blackberry and plums on the initial attack with a strong pepper mid-palate. Subtle hints of toasted cocoa add intrigue. Very bold tannin without being chalky. The acid is big and makes your mouth water. There is a slight high alcohol heat on the swallow. A beautifully elegant representation of Cabernet without being over worked by the oak.
- The Score: At $45, it may out of the price range for some consumers but rest assured I can score this wine a 4+ out of 5, being one of the five best wines I’ve had thus far in 2010.
For those reading this early enough and in the Spokane area, the release parties for these wines are below. For those NOT in Spokane and lucky quick enough to react, contact each of them directly to purchase.
Latah Creek Monarch Red – Release party is Friday April 23 from 5-7pm – call to order 1800-LatahCreek
Nodland Cellars 06 Cab – Release party is Saturday April 24 from 4-9pm – call to order 509-927-7770